Believe That All Things Are Possible

Vogue Donna Karan Collection pattern by Iby Abraham

Who would believe that Iby's pattern would end up in Vogue
- Iby Abraham

This Vogue sewing pattern, autographed by the original patternmaker, has a fascinating story behind it that should inspire all fashion entrepreneurs that anything is possible. In May 2007, I was a recent fashion design college graduate, and starting the Fashion Belle pattern business was still a distant dream when the following ad appeared in Women's Wear Daily:

Patternmaker Assistant
Seeking college graduate with passion to learn patternmaking. Work closely with top master patternmaker with renowned track record in women's designer sportwear collection. Only apply if you aspire to be the best.

Upon reading the ad, I ran into the kitchen where my parents and several friends were visiting and said excitedly, "This is it! This is me! This is exactly the job I want!" Of course, I was only halfway dreaming that I would get the job if I applied. For a year, I had been watching ads for patternmakers and never seen one like this. Most companies wanted patternmakers with five to ten years' experience. I had been frustrated that no one wanted to help a younger patternmaker learn the trade, until I saw that ad. My aspiration was to become a patternmaker at the highest level, and the chance to work with a master patternmaker was breathtaking. The timing was perfect, as the apparel company in the midwestern United States for which I had been working had just closed at the beginning of the recession in 2007.

My persistence in emailing, faxing and calling the office paid off. About a week later, I flew to New York City for a working interview with master patternmaker Iby Abraham, who ended up giving me the job. For the next nine months until his own Areli Collection boutique wholesale business closed as a result of the recession, I observed and learned from this patternmaker who is literally one of the best in the world. I often told him I wished he would make a video teaching series because so few master patternmakers like him are passing on their knowledge to the younger generation.

Mr. Abraham knew he was good. Not only could he produce any shape for which major designers for whom he had worked over the past 30 years requested, he also had a rhythm of working that made him one of the fastest master patternmakers in the industry. Some of his former co-workers with whom I talked confirmed to me his legendary speed compared to other patternmakers. Yet, I was surprised by his humility at times. He would mention with respect the skill of other master patternmakers with whom he had worked or the quality of designs various labels were producing. One day, I walked in wearing a pink gingham version of a jacket I had made from the Vogue pattern pictured above. When Mr. Abraham saw it, he said, "That's a Donna Karan Collection jacket, isn't it?" I agreed, and he replied, "I made that pattern." My surprise could not have been more complete, nor his. He had no idea that the jacket and skirt he had made for a Donna Karan runway show had made it into a Vogue Pattern book! When I had sewn the jacket long before, I had been impressed that the pattern was exquisitely well-designed. What an honor to apprentice under the very patternmaker whose work I had unknowingly admired! Later, I brought the pattern to Mr. Abraham and asked him to autograph it. He wrote with his signature, "Who would believe that Iby's pattern would end up in Vogue," something I would not have expected him to say based on the excellence of his skill.

A few years later, I had the opportunity of interviewing with McCall Pattern Company, the parent of Vogue, and showed them my autographed pattern. The interviewer was excited to see the autograph and hear the story of the patternmaker behind the pattern. She emailed me later that she had shared the story with her co-workers who were also thrilled, since they rarely get to hear about the patternmakers behind the designer collections they publish. (McCall offered me the job, by the way, but I turned it down in favor of turning my focus toward my own Fashion Belle pattern business.)

For all of us with aspirations, anything is truly possible, especially when God is a part of our lives. One of the most loved Scriptures is Luke 1:37, "For nothing will be impossible with God” (Matthew 19:26 is also similar). So, dream big.